Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has been handed a two-game Champions League touchline ban by UEFA for his comments about referee Jonas Eriksson following City’s loss to Barcelona.

Pellegrini will be forced to watch the return leg on 12th March from the stands and he will be prevented from entering the dressing room or making any communication with players or staff during the match at the Camp Nou, or the second one. If City are knocked out, the ban will carry over into next season while a further one-game sanction has been suspended for two years.

Pellegrini had later apologized for claiming that referee Jonas Eriksson was “not impartial” and for saying that a Swedish official should not have taken charge of such a high-profile game. However, the manager did maintain that Eriksson had a “different criteria” for refereeing City and Barcelona, although the club moved later in the day to claim that this was a language misunderstanding by the Chilean.

In a statement the governing body said:

“UEFA’s Control and Disciplinary Body has suspended Manchester City FC manager Manuel Pellegrini for three UEFA competition matches, one of which is under probation for two years.

“The sanction is due to the coach’s press statements and violation of the general principles of conduct under Article 11 of the 2013 UEFA Disciplinary Regulations (DR) at the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg between Manchester City and FC Barcelona on 18 February in England.

“As a result, the City manager will be banned for his team’s round of 16 second leg against Barcelona in Spain on 12 March. This means that Pellegrini may follow the game from the stands only; he may not enter the dressing room, tunnel or technical area before or during the match; and he may not communicate directly or indirectly with his players and/or technical staff during the game (Article 62(1) DR).

“The above decision is open to appeal (Article 54).”

However, it is understood that given the apology issued by Pellegrini, City are unlikely to appeal against the ban.